Monday, January 20, 2020

Les Adieux

On January 20, 1793, Louis XVI said farewell to his family. He was taken to the guillotine the next morning. Madame Royale later recorded their last meeting; it is said that she fainted when saying good-bye to her father.
About seven o'clock in the evening we learned the sentence by the newsmen, who came crying it under our windows: a decree of the Convention permitted us to see the King. We ran to his apartment, and found him much altered; he wept for us, not for fear of death; he related his trial to my mother, apologizing for the wretches who had condemned him; he told her, that it was proposed to attempt to save him by having recourse to the primary assemblies, but that he would not consent, lest it should excite confusion in the country. He then gave my brother some religious advice, and desired, him above all, to forgive those who caused his death and he gave him his blessing, as well as to me.
My mother was very desirous that the whole family should pass the night with my father; but he opposed this, observing to her how much he needed some hours of repose and quiet. She asked at least to be allowed to see him next morning, to which he consented. But, when we were gone, he requested that we might not be permitted to return, as our presence afflicted him too much. He then remained with his confessor till midnight, when he went to bed....
Such was the life of my father during his rigorous captivity. In it were displayed piety, greatness of mind, and goodness; — mildness, fortitude, and patience, in bearing the most infamous insults, the most malignant calumnies; — Christian clemency, which heartily forgave even his murderers; — and the love of God, his family, and his people, of which he gave the most affecting proofs, even with his last breath, and of which he went to receive the reward in the bosom of his almighty and all-merciful Creator.
~ Private Memoirs, by Madame Royale, Duchess of Angoulême, translated by John Wilson Croker. London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, 1823, pp. 199-203

All Of A Sudden Hollywood Cares About Morality

From The Washington Times:
They expose themselves on their red carpets while they bemoan the objectification of women. They claim that “black lives matter” while they enslave generations of African-Americans to government largesse. They lament homeless children at our borders while they celebrate the killing of infants in their clinics. They tell us walls are evil while they live in their gated communities. These are the folks who, to quote their high priest, Barack Obama, believe they are “the ones we’ve been waiting for and they are the change we seek.” They celebrate sodomy, normalize dysphoria, demean women and abuse our kids. They encourage 10-year-old boys to pretend they are girls. Their teachers instruct primary school students in the techniques of masturbation. Their magazines coach teenage girls how to engage in anal sex. They cheer at the loss of innocence. They champion debauchery. They mock fidelity. They malign virtue while they practice vice. And yet, Ron Howard presumes to lecture us about morality. (Read more.)

The culture war is indeed a war. From Andrew Klavan:
This week alone, the left renewed its attempts to vilify the Oscar-nominated film Joker as somehow racist, which it’s not. When a Bible that was used to swear in commanders of the new Space Force was blessed in a ceremony at Washington National Cathedral, an anti-religious group called the blessing a “shocking and repulsive display of only the most vile, exclusivist, fundamentalist Christian supremacy, dominance, triumphalism and exceptionalism.” Even Stephen King, one of our great storytellers and a reliable anti-Trump leftist, was attacked when he said he would “never consider diversity in matters of art” but would only judge it by its quality.

These attacks are relentless and can often be costly. Writer Chadwick Moore, a gay former liberal, says he has been repeatedly banned from Facebook for not towing the homo-leftist line. His latest thirty day expulsion was for posting an article he wrote entitled “Rednecks Are the Least Racist People in America,” based on his own experiences bolstered by research by Thomas Sowell and historian Colin Woodard. And much worse. In Australia, a young gay conservative who protested Drag Queen Story Hour at a library in Brisbane, committed suicide after being viciously defamed by the so-called LGBTQ Community.

Conservatives tend to treat the fight against such leftist bullying as a side skirmish compared to such major battles as who wins the 12th district in Ohio. They may roll their eyes and tweet their tweets — but at the same time, they teach themselves to watch their words lest they lose their social media platforms or their sponsors or their jobs. (Read more.)

Liepaja Massacres

From Yesterday Today:
On the night of December 13, Latvian police forces began to arrest Liepaja’s Jews not yet concentrated in the ghetto. The victims were brought to the Women’s Prison, where Jews of all ages were crammed into the courtyard. The Jews were ordered to stand with their faces towards the wall, and warned not to move or look around for relatives or at the watchmen. Some were transported to Skede on the evening of the following day and crowded into a barn (a wooden structure, described also as a garage).

In the early morning of December 15, a column of victims was driven from Liepaja by Latvian policemen, under the supervision of the German SD, to the same barn in Skede where Jews from the prison had been taken. They were taken in groups of twenty to a site forty to fifty meters from a deep ditch dug in the dunes nearby, parallel to the shore. The ditch was about three meters wide and 100 meters long. There they were forced to lie face down on the ground. Groups of ten were then ordered to stand up and, apart from the children, to undress, at first to their underwear and then, when taken near the ditch, completely. They were shot by a German unit, the Latvian SD Platoon headed by Lt. Peteris Galins, and a Latvian Schutzmannschaften team.

During the murder operation, the Jews were placed along the side of the ditch nearest the sea, facing the water. The killing squad was positioned across the ditch, with two marksmen shooting at the same victim. Children who could walk were treated as adults, but babies were held by their mothers and killed with them. A “kicker” rolled in those corpses that did not fall directly into the ditch. After each volley, a German SD man stepped into the ditch to inspect the bodies and finish off anyone who showed signs of life.

The clothes were piled up in heaps and taken away by German military trucks. During the murder operation, Carl Strott and another officer, Erich Handke, took pictures with a Minox, and senior Wehrmacht and navy officers visited the site.

These photos were found by a Jewish man named David Zivcon, who worked as an electrician at the SD headquarters in Liepaja. A few weeks or months after the execution, he was sent to fix something at Strott’s residence, and notices four negative reels in a partially open drawer. He took them, made copies with the help of a friend, and smuggled them back to the apartment after making up an electricity problem. He put the copies in a box and buried them in a stable. After liberation, he took the photos and handed them to Soviet Intelligence officers. The photos were eventually presented as evidences at the Nuremberg trials. (Read more.)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Royal Sibling Feuds

Louis Stanislas Xavier, Comte de Provence
From History:
From childhood, the clumsy, well-meaning Louis XVI of France was often overshadowed and outmaneuvered by his malicious younger brothers. Stagnant and bored at the court of Versailles, Comte de Provence and Comte d’Artois spent much of their time stirring up gossip about their hapless older brother. Left to their own devices, the brothers often engaged in petty arguments, occasionally in view of the whole court. Soon after Louis’s marriage to the young Marie Antoinette in 1770, the former Austrian archduchess—from a large family of brothers and sisters—found herself frequently breaking up embarrassing fracases between the brothers.

“With her experience of family life,” Antonia Fraser writes in Marie Antoinette: The Journey, “Marie Antoinette began to act as peace-maker between the sparring royal brothers, Louis Auguste and Provence. On one occasion when the clumsy Louis Auguste broke a piece of porcelain belonging to Provence and the younger brother flew at him, Marie Antoinette actually interrupted the fight...”

With their accession to the throne in 1774, Louis and Marie Antoinette’s inability to produce an heir became fodder for his brothers’ taunts. After his own marriage, Provence was also unable to consummate his union. “None of this,” writes Fraser, “stopped the wily Provence from dropping hints about his wife’s condition whenever he could most conveniently bait his brother and his Austrian wife with their own failure.”

The brothers also encouraged the rumor that the graceful, fun-loving Marie Antoinette was having an affair with the equally high-spirited Artois, a complete fabrication. This assault on their brother’s fertility reached a breaking point in 1778, with the birth of Princess Marie-Therese. According to Fraser, at the child's baptism, the Comte de Provence argued that the "name and quality" of the parents had not been formally given.

"Under the mask of concern about correct procedure, the Comte was making an impertinent allusion to the allegations about the baby’s paternity," Fraser writes.

As tensions rose in France, his brothers’ increasingly conservative, reactionary politics caused constant problems for the moderate, placating Louis XVI. Both Provence and Artois escaped France with their families during the revolution. After their brother’s death, both men eventually got what they had perhaps always longed for—the chance to be king. After the fall of Napoleon, Provence reigned as Louis XVIII from 1814 to 1824. Artois followed as Charles X from 1824 to 1830, before he was deposed. (Read more.)

Royals vs Celebrities

From The Spectator:
The concept of a charitable monarchy dates back hundreds of years, but it has become an integral part of the family’s daily work under the Queen’s reign — and an invaluable example for the rest of us. As the writer Will Hutton put it, though inequality of wealth has ballooned back to 19th century levels, there is no sign of 19th century levels of civil engagement and philanthropy by the rich.
But if anyone can get the British rich to part with their cash, it is the royals: the more senior the better. An invitation to one of the palaces, to Clarence House or Highgrove, and a chance to press the flesh both rewards — and inspires — charitable giving. It’s not always very visible but we’d certainly notice if we were to lose it.
Years ago, there were already concerns that the monarchy was getting too big —and that turf wars were inevitable. After a row about whether Camilla should marry Charles, I remember being told by one of his former press officers that it was imperative to do away with royal households. ‘It’s divisive,’ he said. ‘Why have we had this punch-up between St James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace? Because they were working for the individuals and not the institutions.’
If people are keen on simplification and a cut-back monarchy, it’s in part because they don’t understand what monarchy is for. In the days when kings and queens had private armies and fought bloody battles, their subjects were in no doubt about their use. Even in the last century, when the power to chop off people’s heads was long gone, Londoners who lost homes and loved ones in the Blitz knew exactly what monarchy was for. Advised to leave the capital for their safety, the King and Queen resolutely stayed, choosing to face the threat of bombs alongside everyone else. They walked amongst the rubble of flattened communities and stood with the bereaved to offer support and comfort. Their actions embodied the sentiments of the country: they represented the nation to itself. And they put a figurative arm around the vulnerable and the distressed. The love and the loyalty was two-way.
Today I am not so sure it is, particularly amongst the young, who are keen on the idea of a pared-back royal family. The concept of putting duty and service before happiness is anathema to them. Meghan was right, they feel, when she said it was important not just to survive, but to thrive. Yet this is what the Queen has done her entire life: lived in the public eye, meeting and greeting strangers, sacrificing the happiness she might have had elsewhere.
For the young, the royal family are nothing more than celebrities — a view reinforced, of course, by the arrival of Meghan, who was already a celebrity. But there is a very real difference between a royal and a celeb. The Queen has never confused the two. She has always understood that her fame and the public interest and adulation (which was colossal when she was young) has come because of the office she holds, not because of any special talent or achievement.
Charles struggled to find a role for himself when he left the Navy. Eventually he found it in The Prince’s Trust and a lifetime of impressive charitable work. William has followed suit, but I suspect Harry has struggled to find structure or fulfillment since leaving the Army. It may be time for a radical rethink of how those members of the family who are unlikely to succeed live their lives.
Celebrities can be vain, selfish and coin-operated. They can say and do as they please. They can buy mansions, planes and privacy. So can politicians and presidents. The undemocratic nature of the monarchy — which is what sticks in so many people’s craw — is its great advantage. There is no greasy pole to climb, no voters to woo. Our working royals are in the public eye for their entire lives; every expense is scrutinised, every utterance analysed, every mistake turned into a public outrage. It’s a lot to ask. The question is not do we need them — but do we ask more of them than any human being can reasonably give? (Read more.)

More on the Sandringham seems much of the tensions were escalated by the courtiers of the various royal households, just like the olden times. From The Spectator:
Three years ago, Sir Christopher Geidt departed as the Queen’s private secretary. For years, he had done much to hold The Firm together, but his influence was resented by Prince Charles. The festering acrimony between Buckingham Palace and Clarence House came to a head in 2017 when Geidt, a Cambridge-educated former Scots Guard, convened a meeting of staff to announce Prince Philip’s retirement without first consulting Charles’s aides. Geidt ended up being forced out after a decade of unwavering service. Many in the family — including the Princess Royal and Edward — now blame straight-talking Lord Geidt’s absence for the bedlam that has since ensued.

Insiders described Geidt in reverential terms, praising him as an ‘extraordinary man manager’ and ‘strategic thinker’, who unlike some of his royal ‘principals’ had the ability to ‘see around corners’ and deftly handle internal palace politics with forceful subtlety. His replacement, Sir Edward Young, while respected and liked, is said to lack Geidt’s strength of personality. So, thanks largely to her eldest son, the Queen lost the only gatekeeper who was able to keep the warring Windsors in check.
Many have questioned why, as William and Harry’s father and only living parent, Charles has not been able to broker peace between his once inseparable sons. The truth is the royal brothers do not really listen to the ‘Papa’ they have long seemed to regard with a degree of affectionate ridicule. Charles has always been desperate for the approval of his two self-confessed ‘mummy’s boys’ and so historically has had to bring in outsiders to read the riot act, such as their former joint private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton.

Charles’s aides asked William to praise his father’s role in the boys’ upbringing when the brothers appeared in documentaries to mark the 20th anniversary of their mother’s death. He refused. Only Harry paid a brief tribute. But his own relationship with their father suffered a severe blow when, in agreement with the Queen, Charles refused to let the Sussexes set up their own ‘court’ at Windsor after they split their household from the Cambridges’ at Kensington Palace last spring. It is certainly telling that when Charles, famed for his love of ‘black spider’ memos, demanded that Harry commit his ‘North America’ blueprint to paper, the characteristically impatient and sometimes petulant ‘spare to the heir’ went straight to granny.

At first, the Queen agreed to meet her grandson at Sandringham last Monday for talks between the two of them. But the move was blocked by courtiers close to Charles, seemingly in the belief Harry had tried to undermine him. What looked like a peace summit was, in fact, an escalation of the feuding. Tom Bradby, the ITV news anchor who knows both royal brothers well, later revealed that Harry was not only growing frustrated with the lack of urgency, but he was fearful that any written plans might be leaked to the press. That is how bad the situation has become. A form of peace may have been reluctantly brokered at the Sandringham summit, but the feuding continues. (Read more.)

 From Berkshire to Buckingham:
As to whether or not Meghan and Harry can maintain their star power once they leave the fold, I think everyone will be surprised by how quickly they lose their royal luster.  Even as royals, it was my contention that their star would fade as time moved forward.  That would be natural.  That might be something they considered, too, when they made this break for financial autonomy. Outside the fold, though, I think their stock will fall faster than you might think. The magic of royalty truly is special.  The history and tradition, the opulence of the palaces, and luxury of many stately homes, the deference and respect, the public functions, all have a peculiar and unique quality that is hard to quantify and impossible to replicate.  There is a...majesty to monarchy that can't be reproduced.

It is clear to me that Harry and Meghan do not want to give up their HRHs.  Harry has been a royal his whole life, and Meghan clearly loves the star-status of being Her Royal Highness and a Princess of the United Kingdom.  They have trademarked SussexRoyal, too, which will be a real problem if the Queen makes the right call and makes them renounce their HRHs.  I do not know if they see the potential ramifications of losing their HRHs, but my sense is they figure they can go it alone if they have to. I think Harry doesn't understand what it means to not be royal, and Meghan doesn't understand that the star-status stays with the brand.  This is not going to play out à la Diana. She was unique.

We have already seen how their future might play out with that video of Harry chatting up the head of Disney in the receiving line.  It was horrifyingly cringe-worthy, and that is what they are looking at forever now.  If Harry and Meghan cast off the "shackles" of royal-status, and throw themselves back into the world of desperate status-seeking and power climbing, they will be out looking for gigs and trying to make a buck based on former titles.  They will find that a lot of powerful people who welcomed them when they were royals, won't be as keen if they lose their HRHs. This isn't to say I think they won't be successful at maintaining high profiles in the media and on the entertainment/celeb circuit, but they will lose the luster and prestige that royalty currently confers on them. There is something sad about a former royal.  Again, the the Duke and Duchess of Windsor come to mind.  But all of that speculation is the subject of another post. (Read more.)

The Queen's latest statement on Harry and Meghan, from Hello!:
In her statement, the Queen said: "Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family...Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family. I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life. I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family. It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life."
Buckingham Palace also issued the following statement from the Sussexes: "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are grateful to Her Majesty and the Royal Family for their ongoing support as they embark on the next chapter of their lives. As agreed in this new arrangement, they understand that they are required to step back from Royal duties, including official military appointments. They will no longer receive public funds for Royal duties. With The Queen’s blessing, the Sussexes will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations. While they can no longer formally represent The Queen, the Sussexes have made clear that everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty."
The statement continued: "The Sussexes will not use their HRH titles as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have shared their wish to repay Sovereign Grant expenditure for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their UK family home. Buckingham Palace does not comment on the details of security arrangements. There are well established independent processes to determine the need for publicly funded security. This new model will take effect in the Spring of 2020." A palace source said: "The Queen has made it clear that Frogmore will continue to be the Sussexes’ home. They will repay the public expenditure on it and will pay for its upkeep. They will be paying a commercial rent on it." (Read more.)
More HERE. And HERE. Share

Countries With the Most Slaves

From Inverse:
The Global Slavery Index estimates the prevalence of slavery based on more than 50,000 interviews in 53 different languages. If there’s one positive takeaway from the study, it’s that the relative number of people in slavery is at an all-time low. Yet perhaps most shocking is the simple fact that there are 46 million slaves in the world, generating $150 billion in criminal profits. Bales tells Inverse that the definition of slavery is pretty simple: “It’s always about one person completely controlling another person — and using violence to maintain control — with the ultimate aim of exploitation in some way.” Slavery includes not only forced labor but also human trafficking, many sex workers, and various kinds of exploitative relationships. Some kinds of slavery are found in developed countries, even the U.S., which has an estimated 58,000 slaves. But other countries are much worse, with 58 percent of all slaves living in only five countries. We highlight the worst offenders, and what it’s like there, below. (Read more.)

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Inside Sandringham House

The Library

Where all the recent drama occurred. From Hello!:
Her Majesty has been staying at her Norfolk residence since before Christmas, and typically stays there until early February, after marking the anniversary of her father's death privately. She is one of four monarchs to have continued to celebrate Christmas at Sandringham, and it's easy to see why she loves spending time on the 600-acre estate. As well as staying in the 19th-century Sandringham House, the Queen and her family are regular visitors to the estate's church, St. Mary Magdalene, where Prince George and Princess Charlotte made their debut at the annual Christmas Day service in 2019. Keep reading to see more of the Sandringham Estate…(Read more.)

More pictures HERE. And HERE. Share

Fascinating Facts About the Palace of Versailles

 Good article except for the usual silly statements about Marie-Antoinette. From My Modern Met:
Before it was the site of golden gates and manicured gardens, the Versailles estate was first a humble hunting ground. In 1607, Louis XIII—the 6-year-old, soon-to-be-king—visited the area on a hunting trip with his father, King Henri IV. Years later, he’d return to the forested spot, which was “ideally situated between his principle residence at Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Paris [and] surrounded by woods that were noisy with pheasants, boars, and stags” (Chateau de Versailles). Realizing the plot of land’s potential, he decided to build a brick and stone hunting lodge on the premises in 1623. (Read more.)
Later in the article the claim about Marie-Antoinette "playing peasant" is once again made. In 1783, Queen Marie-Antoinette commissioned the architect Mique to build a village and farm on the grounds of her private retreat, the Petit Trianon. The "little hamlet" was to provide food for the royal family, thus giving an example of self-sufficiency to other nobles, as well as celebrating the traditional agricultural life of the French people. It a working farm, plus there were orchards, berry bushes, and fish in the pond. The Queen invited several destitute families to live and work in the hameauA peasant village had existed at Trianon a century before but had been torn down by Louis XIV. The farm has often been cited as an example of decadence on the part of Marie-Antoinette, particularly the dairy with the porcelain milk pitchers. However, it must be taken into account that wealthy people all over Europe were building "follies" in their gardens, such as a fake ruined castles, ornate mosques, Chinese tea houses, solely for decoration. At least Marie-Antoinette's hameau had a practical purpose. Of course, she would not wear an elaborate court gown when spending time on the farm; she would wear a simple cotton dress and sometimes an apron. Therefore she is still accused of "playing dairy maid," although it is doubtful that she ever actually milked any cows. In the main "farm house" there was elegant furniture, a billiard table and such amenities for entertaining in the manner expected of a queen. Foreign guests and ambassadors were occasionally given hospitality at the hameau; the entire estate of Trianon was used on several state visits and was open to the public on Sundays.  In our busy world there seems to be more of an appreciation of Marie-Antoinette's creative way of carving out a retreat for herself and her family, one which patronized and exulted French craftsmanship while simultaneously helping the poor. Share

The Culture of Death Surrounds Us

From The American Vision:
The Virginia Democrat Governor Ralph Northam supported a law that would allow a woman to kill her unborn baby up until his or her (not “its”) birth and thereafter if the result of that birth did not meet the personhood guidelines of the mother. The Virginia government is now dominated by pro-abortion Democrats. They are good with snuffing out the most innocent of life. At the same time, they are passing laws that will leave the rest of Virginians defenseless from people who are hell-bent on killing people no matter what the law says.

Leftists have been trying to defend the third-trimester abortion laws as a woman’s fundamental right. The claim is being made that such abortions should be permitted if (1) the mother’s physical life is in danger, (2) the unborn baby has some physical abnormality, (3) the mother’s “mental health” is in jeopardy.
Considering number 1: There is almost no example of a woman’s physical health being in danger that would necessitate killing the unborn baby. The goal of the doctor and his or her medical staff should do everything to save both mother and child. A doctor should not kill one to save the other. Jeff and Candi Durbin’s daughter went through a difficult delivery. She needed a blood transfusion and the baby was not breathing. What did the doctors do? They did everything to save both of them, and they did.
Considering number 2: Where is the line drawn on physical abnormality? What if a debilitating physical abnormality occurs well after a child’s birth? Should parents have the right to kill the child? Will DNA testing of an unborn baby be used to determine if there is some physical or mental abnormality that could be used to permit a late-term abortion. Think of the film Gattaca. James Jordan writes:
Your name is Vincent [to conquer] Freeman [free from the genetic engineering of the State], [an invalid as determined by the State] and you are a God-child. The prophets of genetics say that you have a 99% probability of developing a heart condition, and so there is no way you’re ever going to be admitted to the space program. You’ll never go to heaven…. Religiously, the film begins with a quotation from Ecclesiastes [7:13] [“Consider what God has done. Who can straighten out what he made crooked?”] and asks the question whether the human spirit is encoded on genes or comes from something higher. The religious elements are in the background, yet they serve to fix the themes of the film. Vincent’s mother clutches a rosary, cross visibly displayed, as she gives birth to her “faith-child.” The symbol on the identity cards of the designer people is an infinity symbol, but on the cards of the normal people is a cross. When Vincent is accepted to go to Saturn, Jerome [genome] exclaims pregnantly: “They’re sending you up there, for Christ’s sake! You! Of all people!”
The spiral stairway in Jerome Morrow’s (played by Jude Law) house is formed as a double-helix model of DNA. One reviewer considered genetic engineering a positive: “With genetic engineering, we could get rid of unwanted traits, such as baldness, obesity, and even genetic diseases.” We could also get rid of the children who have “unwanted traits” once they are born so they could not pass them on. It’s called eugenics (good genes). Who ultimately makes the determination? (Read more.)

Gracious Words

From iBenedictines:
St Benedict devotes a whole chapter of his Rule to restraint in speech (RB 6) and often mentions the value of the good word or blessing that we pass on to others. He is concerned, too, about the way in which we shape our words in choir or as we read in the refectory, how we address one another in the cloister, and how we use words (or not) to welcome a guest. I think most readers of this blog know that it was reflecting on hospitality in the Rule of St Benedict that led the community here to develop an internet outreach at a time when it was still unfashionable among ‘churchy’ types. It is what drives our engagement with social media today, but I think we are facing a new challenge; and if we are, then you, the reader, are, too. 
It is not enough to make a resolution to avoid profanity, for example, or refuse to join in when others are casting slurs on the integrity of others. That can look a little like holier-than-thou tactics to avoid drawing fire on one’s own head, though I would endorse both as being part of civilized discourse. When Jesus is described as uttering gracious words, we have to consider what made them gracious. Content, style, purpose, yes; but something more, the something John tells us about in 1 John 4: love. I wonder how often love of others prompts our words, and how often it is simply love of self, the desire to be heard? Being more self-aware without becoming self-obsessed is a difficult art but one I think we all need to master, both online and off. It may change how we perceive words and how we use them. The most gracious word ever spoken was made flesh at Christmas. That’s how important words are and what we need to ponder. (Read more.)

Friday, January 17, 2020

Monet's Giverny

 From Dusty Old Thing:
Monet lived at this house from 1883 until his death in 1926. His famous garden was immortalized in his paintings. The house is where he painted such masterpieces as Flowering Arches, Giverny, Water Lilies and the Japanese Bridge, and his other famous Waterlilies series.

Monet rented the house for the first 7 years he lived there, moving his family into the quaint home. He then purchased the home in 1890. His large blended family (comprised of his children and step children) all lived there, although he didn’t marry his second wife until 1892. Both the inside and outside of the home reflected his love of color, from the paint on the walls to the flowers in the gardens.

Monet went on to buy an additional garden plot at the back and proceeded to create a lively and vibrant outdoor space that surrounded his house. (Read more.)

Voters Widely Accept Misinformation

From Intellectual Takeout:
NBC News reporter and political director Chuck Todd recently railed against “misinformation” and singled out President Trump and “the right” for having an “incentive structure” to spread it. Todd, who according to NBC, “is responsible for all aspects of the network’s political coverage,” also stated that Republicans criticize the media for “sport” and “the loudest chanters of fake news” are “the ones who, under a lie detector, would probably take our word over any word they’ve heard from the other side on whether something was poisonous or not.”

Speaking directly to those unsupported claims, a scientific survey commissioned by Just Facts shows that many people are indeed misinformed – but contrary to Todd – this is a bipartisan affair. In fact, the survey found that the most commonly believed misinformation accords with left-leaning narratives spread by the press, and Democrat voters are more likely to accept these falsehoods than Trump voters. Furthermore, sizable portions of Trump voters have swallowed some of these media-promoted liberal fictions, as well as some conservative ones.

The findings are from a nationally representative annual survey commissioned by Just Facts, a non-profit research and educational institute. The survey was conducted by Triton Polling & Research, an academic research firm that used sound methodologies to assess U.S. residents who regularly vote. (Read more.)

The World’s Oldest Illustrated Book

From Artnet:
Egyptologists have discovered the oldest copy of what is being called the world’s first illustrated book, a 4,000-year-old edition of the “Book of Two Ways,” an ancient Egyptian guide to the afterlife considered to be a forerunner to the “Book of the Dead.” The text predates previously known versions by some 40 years.

The find was first published in the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology in September by Harco Willems, a professor at the University of Leuven in Belgium. Unlike modern books, these historic writings weren’t inscribed on bound pages, but on the walls of sarcophagi. They were meant to aid the deceased through the perilous journey to the underworld, during which they might be beset by demons or raging fires. If one were to cast the correct spells, he or she might achieve immortality.

Though the plank’s inscriptions reference a governor named Djehutynakht, Willems’s research has revealed that the coffin originally held the remains of a woman named Ankh, referred to throughout the text as “he.” That is in keeping with Egyptian mythology, where rebirth was the purview of male deities, and dead women adopted male pronouns to be more like Osiris, god of death. (Read more.)

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The York Gospels and DNA

From The Atlantic:
The York Gospels were assembled more than a thousand years ago. Bound in leather, illustrated, and illuminated, the book contains the four gospels of the Bible as well as land records and oaths taken by clergymen who read, rubbed, and kissed its pages over centuries. The Archbishops of York still swear their oaths on this book. 
The York Gospels are also, quite literally, a bunch of old cow and sheep skins. Skin has DNA, and DNA has its own story to tell. A group of archaeologists and geneticists in the United Kingdom have now analyzed the remarkably rich DNA reservoir of the York Gospels. They found DNA from humans who swore oaths on its pages and from bacteria likely originating on the hands and mouths of those humans. Best of all though, they found 1,000-year-old DNA from the cows and sheep whose skin became the parchment on which the book is written. (Read more.)

The New Post-Trump Constitution

From Victor Davis Hanson at The National Review:

Even when there is no chance of conviction in the Senate — as when the impeachment indictment is weak and the president’s own party controls the upper House — impeachment will nonetheless proceed, because it is now seen as a banal, politicized vote of no confidence and thus an occasionally useful political tool.

There will be no time limit on or shelf life of a successful impeachment. Once a president is impeached, the writ may simply sit until the House majority feels that the climate or polls are ripe to refer the articles to the Senate for trial, whether in days, weeks, months, or years. The writ’s clauses entailing supposed wrongdoing may post facto grow or shrink as news headlines and presidential popularity gyrate. Impeachment will begin not with a Judiciary Committee but with a House Intelligence Committee, whose chair will decide rules of cross-examination and witness appearances in secret in the basement of the House. Information will be selectively released to the media by the chair of the House Intelligence Committee alone to massage impeachment momentum. (Read more.)

The Family and Civil Society

From The Josias:
The primary end of the family is the education of the child to the maturity of manhood. This is an inalienable right of the family, since, as St. Thomas says: “the child is something of the parent.” (IIa IIae q. 10, a. 12)  
These words of the Angelic Doctor are quoted by Pius XI in the above-mentioned Encyclical. Yet, even here, “the family is not a perfect society which embraces all that is required for its own perfection.” As Pius XI expressly points out: “the common good demands that the State promote the education and learning of youth in various ways,” which must, of course, be performed with due respect for, and in conformity with, the innate rights of the family. The question is: how can the common good demand that civil society should share in promoting the good that is proper to the family? Must this be interpreted to mean that the common good of political society is subordinate to the good of the family? That the perfect society is subservient to the imperfect one? By no means; the contradiction is all too obvious. What, then, is the answer?  
You may have noticed that in a passage already quoted from the Encyclical, the common good of civil society refers to the families and to the individual citizens: "familiae singulique cives". The same distinction is applied in the sentence which immediately follows: “The function of the authority which resides in the State is twofold: to protect and to further the family and the individual citizen, but not in the least by absorbing or replacing them.” Family and individual citizen are not the same. Man is not born a citizen, the child is not as yet causa sui: in fact, the end of the family is to lead the child toward the status of causa sui. But until he has reached this status he belongs to the parent. “Prior to becoming a citizen, man must live, and this life he does not receive from the State, but from his parents. As Leo XIII declared: ‘The children are something of the father; an extension, as it were, of the father’s person; to be exact, they enter into and participate in civil society, not immediately by themselves, but through the domestic community in which they are born… The authority of the father is such that it can neither he suppressed nor absorbed by the State’…” Hence, in this respect, the parent qua parent as well as the child are, normally, beyond the reach of the State. It is the parent as citizen who immediately, and by himself, enters into civil society. How, then, can the family concern the State? How can the common good demand that the State further the proper good of the family?  
We have just pointed out that the good which the family pursues for the child is the status of causa sui, of being a free man: but this is precisely the primary condition of citizenship. The term of education is at the same time the very principle of civil society, which is an association of free men who seek their greatest good qua men in the common weal. It is therefore in the interest of civil society that its members be free men in the strict sense of the word: that they possess the education and learning essential to citizenship. That is why the common good of civil society must extend to the cradle of citizenship.  
Obviously, the common good of civil society and the authority which resides in the government do not extend in the same manner to the family and to the individual citizen. Nevertheless, the end is the same in both instances. The end proper to political society is the common good of the citizen as such — of the freeman — “who can participate in deliberative or judicial office” (Aristotle, Politics III, c. 1), whether directly or indirectly. However, even in helping the family to achieve its own good — the perfection of the offspring — the State pursues this good only in virtue of, and for the sake of, the perfect human good which is proper to civil society. (Read more.)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The Healing Touch of Kings and Queens

Mary I touching the sick
Charles I
In France the kings also had healing ceremonies where the royal touch was said to heal scrofula. Louis XVI held healing ceremonies several times a year. From JSTOR Daily:
These stories reflect a debate that was raging at the time about the nature of sovereignty: Did kings rule by God’s appointment, or by the consent of the ruled? King Charles had asserted his divine right to rule by dissolving Parliament. For this, he was later executed, and the monarchy was transformed into a republic (for a time). For those who believed that English kings ruled by God’s appointment, the execution of King Charles I was a shocking scandal. The accounts of miraculous cures from the king’s blood or blessing, circulating in pamphlets, were a demonstration of God’s favor toward the king. Imagine how many more people could have been healed, one pamphleteer mourned, had Charles lived to bless all the sick and unfortunate of England with his regal hands.

For centuries in England, the ability to heal scrofula had been considered the divinely-granted power of kings. For this reason, the disease was called “the king’s evil,” the evil the king had the power to heal. Edward the Confessor, who ruled from 1042 to 1066, was the first English king to cure the king’s evil with his touch. He anointed a sick woman’s throat with water and made the sign of the cross above it. A wonder followed: “those diseased parts (morbus) that had been treated by the smearing of the king softened and separated from the skin; and, with the pressure of the hand, worms together with pus and blood came out of various holes. Again the good king kneeded with his holy hand and drew out the pus.” The woman was healed.

Over the successive centuries, and successive monarchies, the ritual of the monarch’s healing touch grew from occasional individual healings to vast spectacles. These grand occasions, formalized with an official liturgy, served to prop up the monarchy. The ceremonies showed that the monarchs ruled by the will of God, as divine power worked through the monarch’s anointed hands. The king would touch each sufferer’s swollen throat, make the sign of the cross, and hang a gold coin inscribed with the image of an angel around each neck. Often there were hundreds of supplicants for the king to heal. The mass healings were so popular that eventually sufferers were required to produce a certificate verifying that they had never received the monarch’s touch before.

Not every king was a proponent of the ceremony. William of Orange was famous for his reluctance to perform healings, and indeed seemed to think the whole idea was superstitious nonsense. The one time he was prevailed upon to touch a sufferer from the king’s evil, he prayed to God “to Heal the Patient, and grant him more Wisdom at the same time.” (Read more.)
Louis XIV touching the sick
 More HERE, HERE and HERE.

Racism and the Duchess

Of course, Marie-Antoinette is dragged into it again. But other than that this is a well-written piece. From The Telegraph:
Writing in The New York Times, British author Afua Hirsch decried our “racist treatment of Meghan”, which “proved what many of us have always known: no matter how beautiful you are, whom you marry, what palaces you occupy, charities you support, how faithful you are, how much money you accumulate or what good deeds you perform, in this society racism will still follow you”.

Supplant the word “racism” for “criticism”, and Oxford-educated Hirsch is bang on. We love our royals and, like a nation of nightmare mother-in-laws, we’re overprotective and intrusive, zeroing in on every tiniest spousal misstep and capable of coddling an inexhaustive number of petty grudges at any one time. 
So, yes, we sighed, snarked and snorted about silly things, like Markle closing her own car door, the fact that in six months this woman spent five times what any royal in the whole of Europe had on clothes, and various Marie-Antoinette-isms involving things like penning empowering messages on bananas for sex workers. And yes, the courtiers will also have been uniquely poisonous about all of that and more.
But as a former Hollywood actress, this can’t be Markle’s first encounter with back-stabbing and bitchery? And weren’t Camilla and Fergie put through exactly the same baptism of fire? 
Remember that Saturday, when we welcomed Ms Markle into the fold? I was in the grounds of Windsor Castle. I saw the Brits who had travelled to be there celebrating the arrival of the first African-American member of the Royal family – many of them mixed-race couples (estimated to be 9 per cent of the population in the UK, as opposed to just 4.6 per cent in Wokeville, Canada, and 2 per cent in the US).

And what struck me then, as someone who has lived in the US on and off for the past decade, was how blissfully uncluttered and unpolarised we were by racial issues in comparison. How very – to coin Megxit terminology – naturally and unselfconsciously “progressive”: a thought echoed by Trevor Phillips this month, who called Britain “the only country in the world where a sizeable mixed-race population has come about as a consequence of love, rather than coercion or slavery”. It struck me, too, that we were very optimistic about a woman we knew so little about. 
Over time, that optimism was eroded not by the occurrence of rapid-onset racism, but by Markle’s actions and behaviour. The capriciousness over Frogmore Cottage, Archie’s hide-and-seek christening and the ghastly press, who simply would not pander in the way that they were ordered to. 
Oh, and the overt whinging about us to everyone from Pharrell Williams (“they don’t make it easy”) to Tom Bradby: “Not many people have asked if I’m OK,” she told the journalist as – in an eye-watering feat of narcissism – she managed to eclipse every cause she and her husband had gone to Africa to highlight, and make it all about her. In toddler tantrum-style, the list goes on, ending only with yesterday’s emergency summit. So, no, Meghan: had you been blonde-haired and blue-eyed, you wouldn’t have been judged any differently. Because this isn’t racism: this is piece-of-work-ism. (Read more.)

From The Federalist:
You don’t need genius to know that Hirsch is therefore utterly deluded in her assertions or, worse, deliberately race-baiting. Millions welcomed the new couple when they married, and lined up on the streets to celebrate. Britain remains one of the safest countries in Europe, and its overt structural racism is minimal compared to the rest of the continent. British society, other than some specific communities in a handful of cities, is overall extremely well integrated socially and economically, and significantly happy. These communities are also a significant social-conservative force and backers of Brexit. High-ranking members of the current Conservative government, including Sajid Javid and Priti Patel, are from a minority British background. 
The reason for Harry and Meghan’s departure is pure liberal-individualist narcissism. And both are equally responsible for that. Due to its symbolic and apolitical nature, British aristocracy are not supposed to publicly espouse political opinions, much less actively lecture people about mental health, toxic masculinity, or climate change. They are supposed to go to war, open hospitals, and silently take part in charitable causes. Duty, stoicism, propriety, and patriotism are supposed to be the four cornerstones of nobility. (Read more.) 

More HERE. (I hate the comparison with Marie-Antoinette.) Share

Vegetarianism in the English Civil War

From Lord Grey:
In the English Civil War, vegetarianism helped reinforce the religious arguments for which some of the protagonists fought. Refraining from meat was not just a question of taste - for many it was a question of faith.​ 
The diet of early modern England was sparing when it came to consumption of flesh. For the majority of people, meat was an expensive rarity. But recent research has revealed that even the poorer members of 17th century society ate considerable amounts of meat, and those involved in heavy labour, such as agricultural workers, may have consumed between one and two pounds of flesh a day (Hailwood, 2013). Given this revelation, it is all the more remarkable that there were those among the lower classes who maintained a meat-free diet, not out of necessity but for reasons of morality. 
Going 'veggie' was a regular occurrence for those who lived in London during the Civil War, when the last Wednesday of each month was observed as a public fast and eating meat was prohibited. The Bible taught that after Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden they were condemned to live by their own labour: “In the sweate of thy face thou shalt eat bread” (Genesis, 3:18-19), and reverting to a meat-free diet was a reminder to the London citizens of their innate sinfulness. Parliament's stipulation of these monthly fasts was both an act of humility and an acknowledgement of Christ's ultimate salvation, bringing the London population closer to God. (Read more.)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Elizabeth The Great

As a teenager, Elizabeth and her family withstood Hitler. It was just the beginning of the hurdles the Queen would face throughout her long life. From Royal Central:
There is no doubt that Elizabeth II’s reign will go down in history as one of the most successful and popular in British history. Through Her Majesty’s dedication to this country and to the Commonwealth, she has worked to help redefine what Monarchy is and how, even in the 21st century, it is right for the UK.

Elizabeth II has, by modern constitutional standards, been a bastion of correct practice for Monarchs. This set us wondering – will Her Majesty go down in history as more than just Elizabeth II, could she be… Elizabeth the Great. An elaborate title, yes – but what’s the precedent for using the title ‘the Great’. In this article, we’re going to explore how the title ‘the Great’ is used by historians and whether it could possibly be applicable to our own dear Queen as historians one day look back on such a full and fantastic reign.

To start, only one English or British King has ever been afforded the style of ‘the Great’ by historians and that was Alfred the Great – he reigned from 871 to 899 and his epithet was awarded for defending his kingdom against the Viking attempt at conquest – by the time of his death, he was the dominant ruler of England (at a time when England was under the system of Heptarchy, with seven major Kingdoms).

Other Monarchs have earned titles through history also based on what they achieved during their reign – King William I is known as William the Conqueror, because as his title suggests – he conquered England and brought it under one Kingdom, something his predecessors had done with the exception of abolishing the Heptarchy in favour of a Monarchy. His other epithet of ‘William the Bastard’ is probably one he would have wished to avoid. The only Monarch English-British history to have been afforded the title of the Great – Alfred the Great. (Read more.)
From Peter Hitchens at First Things:
The monarch, stripped of all ancient direct power, is now remarkably like the king on a chessboard—almost incapable of offensive action, but preventing others from occupying a crucial square and those around it. But what a difficult task this is. I doubt if any human being can now bear the responsibilities of this office: to be silent when you wish to speak, inactive when you wish to act, polite without exception to all your subjects and all your prime ministers. Nor can I see how, in an age when the laws of God are largely scorned, we can realistically expect many in the next generation of princes and princesses to adhere to the rules of Christian marriage, which is both the constitution of private life and the key to all the laws we have. In its subjection of immediate desire to lasting love, it neatly encapsulates the whole principle under which we are governed. Yet who, unless they were brought up in chilly houses, expected to eat austere meals to the last morsel, made to write thank-you letters for every gift, subjected to brisk walks in wind and rain, could ever cope with the public or private demands of monarchy? The Queen, who is now 93, no doubt had such an upbringing. But hardly anyone else living has experienced it. (Read more.)

Meanwhile, Her Majesty is handling the Harry and Meghan crisis with wisdom and aplomb. Yesterday, members of the Royal Family met with the Queen at Sandringham in Norfolk. From The Daily Mail:
Prince Harry had wanted his 93-year-old grandmother, father and brother to let him and his wife keep their royal titles while living abroad and grabbing 'financial independence' to earn their own money using the Sussex brand, which experts say could be worth £400million.  
Ahead of the meeting, the Queen was said to want guarantees that the proposed Sussex business empire wouldn't damage the royal family. William and Charles were expected to reject the couple's demands for taxpayer-funded police bodyguards while in the UK and were concerned about the environmental impact of criss-crossing the Atlantic to carry out royal duties in Britain and across the globe.

Charles is also said to be 'hurt' by Harry and Meghan's decision to quit because he has secretly given them millions to fund their lavish lifestyle and furnish their Windsor home in a show of 'love' for the couple since they married 20 months ago, according to the Evening Standard. (Read more.)
Also from The Daily Mail:
The Queen, who is desperate to chart a way out of the crisis raging through the Family ranks, has ordered courtiers to double down efforts to develops blueprint for the Sussexes future, to be completed within days. In the statement, the head of state broke with protocol to refer to the couple by their first names rather than the 'Duke and Duchesss of Sussex'.

Some experts have decoded this to mean Harry and Meghan could be stripped of their titles, while others have played it down as the grandmother, 93, simply striking a soft tone. Royal commentator Victoria Arbiter said the move was likely to be telling, tweeting : 'I do think it was very striking, particularly in a statement from the Queen. Are they having to give up their titles? This would be an indication they are...'

Reacting to the statement, Queen Elizabeth biographer and royal historian Robert Lacey said the language was an immensely personal intervention uncharacteristic of typical Palace communiqués. He told BBC Radio 4: 'It is remarkably hands-on. I mean it may have been processed through officials but this is the Queen, speaking to her people and speaking about her family, and I think coming right through it is the concern she feels.' 

Speaking to the Times, royal author Ingrid Seward said: 'The first round has gone to the Sussexes. It feels that the royal family are bending over backwards to try and help.' Yesterday's unprecedented meeting represented the first time that Harry, 35, had met with his closest relatives since early November, with the prince and his wife having taken a six-week break in Canada over the Christmas period. Although they arrived back only last week, Meghan, 38, has already returned to the country. Aides have now been set to work to try to come up with a workable solution to the crisis preferably by Friday.

This includes enabling the couple to find a way to become 'financially independent' and not rely on taxpayer funds in the future, as well as acceding to their wish to live partly in Canada for the foreseeable future. Other issues left on the table for further discussion are the cost and provision of the couple's security, particularly while they are spending large swathes of time out of the country. There is also the matter of Frogmore Cottage, the couple's Windsor home lent to them by the Queen, and refurbished with £2.4million of public money. The couple have insisted that they want to keep the property as a base in the UK.

It is clear that despite the Queen's emphasis on the meeting being 'constructive and supportive', the schism between Harry and his family runs deep. The statement failed to hide the sadness of the elderly monarch who has made no secret of the hurt her grandson has caused her in wanting to break away from the institution and choosing to tell the world of his intentions last Wednesday without informing her first. Harry is expected to leave the country to rejoin his family by the end of the week, after conducting what will likely be an awkward engagement at Buckingham Palace on Thursday in front of the media.

Yesterday's 'Sandringham summit' saw Harry arrive at 11.20am, with his grandmother and father already waiting for him. At his side was his newly-appointed private secretary, Fiona Mcilwham. His frail grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, was earlier seen driving out of the estate and it is not known if the pair, once so close, even met. Intriguingly, his brother William, whose relationship with his brother has become so toxic that many insiders describe it as 'irreparable', did not pull through the gates of the Queen's Norfolk estate until 1.45pm, just 15 minutes before the start of the summit. It is understood that Meghan, who flew back to Canada just 24 hours after the couple's bombshell statement last week announcing they were to stand down as senior royals, was planning to dial in on speaker phone. She is staying at the couple's borrowed mansion on Vancouver Island with their eight-month-old son Archie.

Some in royal circles suggested last night that Harry and Meghan had left the Queen little option but to capitulate to most of their demands to prevent a 'royal war'. The statement's talk of a 'transition period' for the couple between the UK and Canada was said by one aide to be simply a chance for the family to gain breathing space while 'this mess of Harry and Meghan's own making is sorted out'.
The acknowledgement that they will hand over their public funding in order to become 'financially independent' appears to give them the licence to strike commercial deals as part of their 'Sussex Royal' brand, which some experts predict could be worth at least £400million. But senior royals are said to be aghast at this idea of monetising the monarchy and want an assurance from Harry and US-born Meghan that they will treat their positions with respect.

The Queen's decision to refer in her statement to the couple by their first names, an unusually intimate reference, particularly for the monarch, has also sparked speculation that the couple are set to lose their titles. Aides say that this is unlikely as the family is acutely aware of the public backlash when Harry's mother Diana, Princess of Wales, was stripped of her own HRH. Asked if they could remember a time that the Queen has ever issued such an official personal statement about a member of her family, aides both past and present were at a loss to remember one.

The Queen has referred with warmth and affection to her husband, Philip, and the Prince of Wales in speeches and other tributes, and addressed other issues such as her famous 'annus horribilis' in the Christmas speech. Other statements about family affairs have been issued by Buckingham Palace on her behalf, but always by a spokesman. Royal insiders have told the Mail it is clear that she fears for the future of the institution. Although she and Charles are agreed on the importance of a slimmed-down monarchy in the future, Harry and his family were always considered an important part of the line-up. (Read more.)
According to The Tatler:
The Queen’s top advisor is in the firing line following the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s bombshell announcement last week, in which they effectively ‘resigned’ as senior royals. The blame is being laid by members of the Royal Family at the Queen’s private secretary Sir Edward Young’s feet, as the courtier seems likely to become a casualty of the scandal. It is thought that even Princess Anne and Prince Edward - who had sought to steer clear of the drama - have voiced their concerns over Young’s incompetence. ‘All the guns are blazing at Edward Young,’ a source in the royal household told The Times. ‘He has not geared up the system to protect the monarch. Very senior members of the royal family think he should go.’ (Read more.)
More HERE, HERE, and HERE. Share

The Nigerian Martyrs

From The Catholic Herald:
On December 28, Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments, tweeted about the December 26 killings. “In Nigeria, the murder of eleven Christians by mad Islamists is a reminder of how many of my African brothers in Christ live faith at the risk of their own lives,” Sarah wrote. “These baptized are martyrs. They have not betrayed the Gospel,” the cardinal added.

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese sees the Christmas Day action by the IS as part of a continued effort to promote antagonism between Christians and Muslims in the country and region. “They are trying to create a situation of war,” Kaigama told Vatican Radio. “They want to see Muslims and Christians fighting.” According to the archbishop, IS members hope that in the midst of the confusion, they might “have the upper hand and be able to destroy Christians, take over the country and even the neighboring countries.” (Read more.)

How Humans Came to the Americas

From The Smithsonian:
Now our understanding of when people reached the Americas—and where they came from—is expanding dramatically. The emerging picture suggests that humans may have arrived in North America at least 20,000 years ago—some 5,000 years earlier than has been commonly believed. And new research raises the possibility of an intermediate settlement of hundreds or thousands of people who spread out over the wild lands stretching between North America and Asia.

The heart of that territory has long since been submerged by the Pacific Ocean, forming the present-day Bering Strait. But some 25,000 to 15,000 years ago, the strait itself and a continent-size expanse flanking it were high and dry. That vanished world is called Beringia, and the developing theory about its pivotal role in the populating of North America is known as the Beringian Standstill hypothesis—“standstill” because generations of people migrating from the East might have settled there before moving on to North America.

Much of this new theorizing is driven not by archaeologists wielding shovels but by evolutionary geneticists taking DNA samples from some of the oldest human remains in the Americas, and from even older ones in Asia. Those discoveries have opened a wide gap between what the genetics seem to be saying and what the archaeology actually shows. Humans may have been on both sides of the Bering Land Bridge some 20,000 years ago. But skeptical archaeologists say they will not believe in this grand idea until they hold the relevant artifacts in their hands, pointing out that no confirmed North American archaeological sites older than 15,000 to 16,000 years currently exist. But other archaeologists are confident it is only a matter of time until older sites are discovered in the sprawling, sparsely populated lands of eastern Siberia, Alaska and northwestern Canada. (Read more.)

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Shah's Iran

 From Yahoo:
In the decades before the Islamic revolution of 1979, Iran was ruled by the Shah, whose dictatorship repressed dissent and restricted political freedoms. But he also he pushed the country to adopt Western-oriented secular modernization, allowing some degree of cultural freedom. Under the Shah's rule, Iran's economy and educational opportunities expanded. Britain and the US counted Iran as their major ally in the Middle East, and the Shah forcefully industrialized large segments of the country. But the Shah's increasingly authoritarian measures and his eventual dismissal of multiparty rule set the stage for the infamous revolution. Still, for a period of almost 40 years, the Shah led Iran through a series of sweeping changes. From 1941 to 1979, Iran was ruled by King Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah. (Read more.)

Antisemite of the Year

The votes are in and the counting has been completed: US Rep. Ilhan Omar is 2019's biggest antisemite, according to The NGO announced that Omar would be awarded the contested title of biggest antisemite of the year on Monday, including a video listing her unmatched achievements in the field of Jew-hatred, accompanied sarcastically by congratulatory music and confettiThis list included:

1. Accusing American Jewry of possessing dual loyalty.

2. Alleging that Jews buy their influence with money, infamously stating "It's all about the Benjamins."

3. Accusing Israel of having hypnotized the world.

4. Supporting the antisemitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. (Read more.)

The Carolingian Dynasty

The Carolingians derive their name from ‘Carolus’, the Latin form of ‘Charles’. It is unsurprising that there were several members of the dynasty by the name of Charles, the most prominent of whom being Charlemagne. Nevertheless, the name of the dynasty refers to Charles Martel, who is generally regarded to be its founder. Some sources, however, claim that the Carolingians are named as such thanks to the significance of Charlemagne.The roots of the Carolingian dynasty may be traced all the way back to Arnulf, the bishop of Metz. Along with Pippin I (known also as Pippin of Landen, or Pippin the Elder), Arnulf is the earliest known ancestor of the Carolingians. Both Arnulf and Pippin were prominent figures in the Merovingian court during the 7th century AD and played a prominent role in its politics.
For example, in 613 AD, the two men led a rebellion against Brunhild, the Merovingian regent, which brought about her downfall. Their actions also allowed the Frankish lands, which was at that time divided between Austrasia and Neustria, to be reunited under a new king, Chlothar II. 
The relations between the two were further strengthened by the marriage of Arnulf’s son, Ansegisel, to Pippin’s daughter, Begga. Prior to Charles Martel, the line of Arnulf and Pippin became known either as ‘Arnulfing’ or ‘Pippinid’. Ansegisel and Begga had a son, Pippin II (known also as Pippin of Herstal), who, like his maternal grandfather before him, held the office of the mayor of the palace of Austrasia. During this time the Kingdom of the Franks was divided once again, but Pippin triumphed over the Neustrians in 687 AD at the Battle of Tertry and reunited the kingdom once more. In addition, Pippin adopted the title dux et princeps Francorum (Duke and Prince of the Franks) and was the mayor of the palace of both Austrasia and Neustria. 
Although the Merovingians continued to occupy the throne, their authority was now severely reduced, and Pippin was effectively the ruler of the entire kingdom, though as a power behind the throne. For instance, Pippin chose to retain Theuderic III as king, and after his death, replaced him with three successive Merovingian rulers. (Read more.)